“We want to celebrate our Englishness”.
That was the key finding of a major survey conducted by researchers at the University of Huddersfield.
Their study revealed that staff and students on the Queensgate campus are keen to celebrate their Englishness next week on St George’s Day.
Dr Andy Mycock, Dr Shaun McDaid and second-year politics student, Jack McCabe, hosted an on-line survey during early March with over 500 staff and students born in England to explore attitudes a range of issues attitudes regarding how English national identity is understood and how they viewed the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. The survey found that 60% supported the introduction of a Bank Holiday to mark England’s national saint’s day.
That figure fell dramatically though when it was suggested that this would be granted only at the cost of losing an existing Bank Holiday.
A third of respondents said they did not want a Bank Holiday to mark St George’s Day.
Dr Mycock said: “St George’s Day offers a growing number of people an opportunity to celebrate their English identity, though they are less sure how the day should be marked.
“We argue that such uncertainty does not matter as long as people are able to mark St George’s Day in inclusive manner that does not seek to offend others.
“However support for a public holiday is conditional and many are reluctant to give up existing public holidays to mark their Englishness. It is also clear that St George’s Day lacks sufficient popular appeal to be considered an inclusive English national day for all”.
The survey found that many English people appear happy to switch between an English and British identity, appearing unsure of the differences between them.
Growing resentment against the political and economic dominance of London over the rest of England saw a significant number of respondents expressed a strong affiliation for their northern roots, noting pride in their Yorkshire and local origins.
Signs of ‘northern discomfort’ saw 20% calling for regional devolution of government in Westminster. Most respondents were however content with current political arrangements and thought that the main political parties did not need to adopt a more strident English nationalism.
Similarly, three-quarters supported the maintenance of the union with Scotland, although the survey revealed that family and friendship ties were weakening as fewer Scottish students were studying in England.
The full results of the survey will be revealed at the inaugural St George’s Day Public lecture to be held at the University of Huddersfield on April 23, between 5pm and 6.30pm.
The lecture, titled ‘Towards an Independent England? Is time to set the English free?’, will be delivered by Dr Mycock who has published widely on debates about Englishness.
It is open to all members of the general public who can book a free place by contacting Sarah Boyd at S.Boyd2@hud.ac.uk or by phoning 01484 473324.
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